By Rob Kiser
Call Sports Editor
The feeling of anticipation was in the air Friday.
The footballs and soccer balls were in the air — golf balls were teed up — on the first day of practice for the upcoming fall sports season.
“There is a lot excitement,” Piqua Athletic Director Chip Hare said. “There are a lot of teams with high expectations. You could definitely feel the excitement as I was out at different practices.”
And with Piqua, there is plenty of new for the upcoming season.
Bonnie Davis takes over for Cheryl Burkhardt as girls tennis coach for the Lady Indians.
“Bonnie (Davis) is an instructor and player both at Schroeder (indoor courts in Tipp City),” Hare said. “We just feel like Bonnie has a lot of experience, is well respected and is going to be an asset to the program.”
Davis is currently looking for players to fill out the team for the season, which begins Aug. 11.
The team practices behind the junior high school and there are two different practices Monday for players who are interested.
The first practice is from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by a practice from 7-8:30 p.m.
Anyone interested in more information on the team can call Davis at 778-1698.
“Tennis is a lifetime sport,” Hare said. “Bonnie (Davis) is interested in getting players to play in the off-season, as well as during the season. That was something Coach (Cheryl) Burkhardt was in the midst of doing as well.”
The boys soccer team will have a new face — although certainly a familiar one — leading the team this season.
Former coach Nick Guidera recently accepted a new position at Graham High School — as athletic director and boys soccer coach — and longtime assistant Danny Henry is taking over as interim coach.
“First, I am really happy for Nick (Guidera) and the opportunity he is getting,” Hare said. “I hate to lose him as a coach, but I am excited he is getting the opportunity.”
Henry was a perfect choice for the job.
“First, Danny played and coached for Chad Haemmerle and coached for Nick Guidera,” Hare said. “The players know him and respect him. And secondly, the players will not have to get used to a new coach who may bring a different philosophy to the program.
“The Xs and Os will be the same as they have been in the past and it should make for a smooth transition.”
Courtney Swabb takes over girls cross country, replacing Steve Frazier, who retired.
“Courtney (Swabb) was a junior high coach last year and assistant track coach,” Hare said about the former Ansonia High School standout. “She is an outstanding coach. She has a lot of enthusiasm that the kids respond to. The junior high program has gone from 10 runner to 30 and that is because of her enthusiasm and getting the kids excited about running.”
Kris Stewart will be the interim cheerleading advisor.
“Kris (Stewart) will do a good job,” Hare said. “She is already a teacher here and is an assistant swimming coach. It is great to have her step up as we want to continue to be one of the top competition teams.”
In addition to that, there will be some new looks with the facilities — both at Wertz Stadium and Alexander Stadium/Purk Field.
“We already had a great soccer facility (at Wertz Stadium) and it is going to be even better with the facelift it is getting,” Hare said.
Alexander Stadium/Purk Field — where the football team plays — will feature a state of the art scoreboard which will be unveiled later this month.
“First, I want to stress that the money for the scoreboard was donated (by anonymous donors and businesses),” Hare said. “None of Piqua City Schools money was used for the scoreboard.”
One big feature of the new scoreboard will be videos.
“Our academic media class will be trained and be at the games doing different things,” Hare said. “This is an exciting time and with practice starting, it means schools and games are right around the corner.”
Until then, the anticipation and excitement will continue to grow.